On March 2nd Wizards of the cost announced a new sourcebook coming out for D&D called Mythic Odysseys of Theros. For any fans of Magic the Gathering they will instantly recognize the name. That is pretty much all the sell I need to do for anyone who plays MTG and D&D. But why should non-MTG fans be excited for this? Well I will let Wizards themselves hook you in with this quote about the new sourcebook:
Walk the lands of Theros and choose a supernatural gift that sets players on the path of destiny, aligning with one of Theros’ fifteen gods and carving a tale of odysseys and ordeals. The new sourcebook introduces several new races and subclasses, including the Bard’s College of Eloquence and Paladin’s Oath of Heroism, presenting players with challenging mythic monsters. Destiny and immortal schemes will lead players to unknown challenges, leaving behind tales that are celebrated in the pantheon of myths and writ among the eternal stars.
So first thing is first who are these gods? There are a total of 15 Gods alive in the Theros world; the book probably doesn’t include the two Gods who are dead at this point. Of these fifteen Gods there are five major Gods. Those gods are Heliod (God of the Sun), Thassa (God of the Sea), Erebos (God of the Dead), Purphoros (God of the Forge), and Nylea (God of the Hunt).
The minor Gods in Theros are Athreos (God of Passage), Ephara (God of the Polis), Iroas (God of Victory), Karametra (God of Harvests), Keranos (God of Storms), Kruphix (God of Horizons), Mogis (God of Slaughter), Pharika (God of Affliction), Phenax (God of Deception), Klothys (God of Destiny). This is the briefest description of the gods. I wont get into each God’s story here as it would make the article way too long, but I would like to offer descriptions of what their domains are in case one of them peeks people’s interests at the end of this article. Suffice to say even if you do not read the brief descriptions of each God, the pantheon is fully flushed out and provides great backstory and motivations for your character.
Another great thing coming with this sourcebook, new races! If you like Greek mythology, this is going to be fun for you. Here is a list of all possible races that could be introduced; Cats, Centaurs, Gorgons, Merfolk, Minotaurs, Satyrs, Spirit, Archons, Basilisks, Chimeras, Cyclopes, Demons, Dragons, Giants Hags, Harpies,Hounds, Hydras, Krakens, Lamias, Manticores, Pegasi, Phoenixes, Sphinxes, Sirens. Some of these are already in D&D, but it is important to note that they may be given a slight rework to fit the ancient Greek influenced theme, since many in the original sourcebooks are Nordic themed.
Most of these will probably be introduced as monsters or NPCs. Among them the most likely to go that route are Gorgons, Merfolk, Minotaurs, Spirits, Archons, Basilisks, Chimeras, Cyclopes, Demons, Dragons, Giants, Hags, Harpies, Hounds, Hydras, Krakens, Lamias, Manticores, Pegasi, PHeonixes, Sphinxes, and Sires. The cool thing about these are that many of the monsters are well developed with societies and back stories. For example the Archons are explicitly malevolent, frequently attacking cities for their leader Agnomakhos. They were once the main civilized race, forming a tyrannical empire over the lesser ones.
This leaves a few to be playable races. Cats are actually anthropomorphic half human half cat creatures. They have their own civilization and heroes. They usually revolve around good, law and life. Most likely they will be paladin like creatures, rather than the usual rogue like cat creatures you get in RPGs.
Centaurs are divided into two different bands. The civilized Lagonna band and the more wild Pheres band. These could go either way as playable or NPC but I think it is about time we get to make centaurs as playable characters.
Lastly there are Satyrs. Hedonistic goat-people with a duplicitous nature. These again have a really good chance of being just NPCs, but they also have a good chance of being playable since there aren’t many other playable races in Theros. Also they would be really fun to roleplay given their lying nature, and would make great trickster bards.
All in all, as a former Greek Historian I am very excited about this sourcebook. Not because it is accurate to Greek myth or history, but because it is a fantastical love letter to ancient Greece. It’s everything that I would want to role-play about ancient Greece. Long Odyssey like adventures sailing the world fighting mythical creatures with a heroic band of characters. Fighting monsters, fulfilling prophecies, finding ancient wonders, and fighting with and against the Gods. Everything that was fun and adventurous about the Odyssey, the Iliad and other Greek myths in general are present in this sourcebook for you to make a gripping campaign.
Now for the God descriptions
Heliod represents the law, justice, retribution, and the bonds of kinship. Heliod presides over matters of family honor, questions of morality and virtue, speeches, marriages, acts of protective bravery, dawn meals, and self-sacrifice. Heliod’s name is often part of legal proceedings, and sacrifices to him are made in times when the greatest aid — or the strictest justice — is needed.
Thassa is associated with aquatic creatures, the “secrets of the briny deep”, ancient knowledge, murmurs, gradual change, the passage of time, introspection, vast distances, long voyages, far-ranging searches and patterns. Her most overt role is that of a sea goddess, and gradually changing the world’s coastlines.
Erebos is associated with death, misfortune, ill fate, begrudging acceptance, envy and bitterness. Born from the first shadow cast from the Sun’s light, he was banished by Heliod to the Underworld. Erebos wields Mastix, a golden-handled whip with an impossibly long lash. The whip is a means of inflicting pain when he must, but its more frequent function is as a snare to pull the reluctant dead into his realm. The god of the Underworld is worshiped by those who exalt death, those who desire wealth, and those who pray for acceptance of their fates. Because the dead leave their earthly wealth behind, Erebos has become associated with that wealth, as well as with the abundance of gold in his realm.
Purphoros is associated with the forge, the restless earth and the fire. He rules the creative force of heat and energy in the souls of sentient beings: this energy is chaotic, something that needs to be harnessed and shaped by labor and passion. For this reason, Purphoros is also the god of artisans, of obsession, and of the cycle of creation and destruction. His forge burns in the heart of Mount Velus, attracting dragons with its blistering heat.
Nylea is associated with the hunt, the seasons, and the forests. Her reign over the hunt extends on predation and hunger, while with her rule over the seasons, she is also patron of metamorphosis and rebirth. At the center of her grove, there is a chrysalis, in which Nylea usually sleeps to receive strength and peace.
Nylea is the best archer on the plane, and as such wields a short bow called Ephixis. It is said that an arrow from Nylea’s bow never fails to find its mark. The nymph Theophila, Nylea’s companion, conjures illusions for target practice, such as fireflies or minuscule silkworms. Nylea permits predation, but she hates hunting for sport: she personally kills poachers in the Nistos Forest who don’t ask for her blessing to hunt her animals. Nylea watches over all the creatures of the forests, except snakes which, thanks to the blessing of Pharika, can take care of themselves.
The God of Hunt is usually aloof and thoughtful, but she is playful and joyful with her loyal companions. However, she has a feral, animalistic side and bears the responsibility of keeping the forest a safe haven for animals; preventing the spread of humans into her domain, and letting the natural world have free rein. Nylea is quick to anger and vengeance if something threatens her realm. She has complete dominance on the seasons, that she can change at her whim and delay if angered.
She is allied with Purphoros and permits him to unleash fires on the forest in order to grow new life or to keep humans away when they are encroaching too far into the wilds. However, she has a tumultuous relationship with Karametra, the God of the Harvests. Karametra is infuriated by Nylea’s interference in the seasons. In turn, Nylea is disgusted by agriculture, which she sees as an aberration from the natural cycle of the world.
Nylea dislikes the construction of temples and cities in general. For this reason, she has no temples, buildings, or holy sites, save for trees surrounded by clouds of butterflies. When a similar tree is spotted, people know that Nylea is near. Most of her human followers are loners and outcasts. Nymphs of all kinds pay homage to her, as do sentient humanoids such as satyrs, centaurs, and many citizens of Setessa. Some city dwellers come into the forest to honor her, especially to pray that the seasons will change in a timely manner. Nylea hates sacrifices and is notoriously hard to please: worshipers could as easily anger her as win her blessing. One thing she likes is acts of kindness and protection of creatures both domesticated and wild.
The shrouded Athreos is the River Guide, the divine ferryman of the dead across the Rivers That Ring the World to the Underworld. Silent, bent, and tattered, he patiently fulfills his role. Athreos is never without his signature staff, a gnarled length of dark wood. When he lays his staff over one of the five Rivers, it becomes a boat to carry the dead.
Ephara is the god of city-states and building. Ephara represents and presides over any organized state of people, but in particular she is worshipped in Meletis. Ephara is also the god of industry, civic wisdom, scholarship, religious sculpture, friezes, architecture, societal progress, social philosophy, and the protection and stability of the city. She granted magic to the Meletians to overthrow the evil Archon Agnomakhos.
Iroas is the god of honor and victory in war. He is thought to take the form of a centaur, though his lower half is that of a bull. He governs both personal valor and bravery in battle, and thus he also governs warfare. He is twin to Mogis, god of slaughter, who commands the dark and brutal side of war, and the two spar constantly. Iroas is worshipped mostly in Akros, and is apparently its patron. He established the Iroan Games in that city’s arena.
Karametra is the god of the hearth, agriculture and harvest. She is a serene, wise god who values community, stability, and the balance of nature. She is the patron of Setessa, and associated with charity and orphans. Karametra has a tumultuous relationship with Nylea, whom she speaks of as her sister. Though she governs the realms of fertility, motherhood, and agriculture, Karametra is not a pacifist god. Her signature item is a scythe, signifying both the harvest and the natural laws of life and death. She is often depicted with a sable, a weasel-like creature of great ferocity.
Keranos embodies the fury of the storm and the sudden blaze of epiphany. A god of little patience and less mercy, he dispenses insights and blasts of lightning in equal measure. Keranos is intolerant of mortals, whom he sees as reckless. Yet he also respects those who take action with a clear purpose, especially if they seek his approval first. Such individuals earn a two-edged blessing: momentary glimpses of the future, but the inability to change what is to come.
Kruphix is the eldest of the gods. The enigmatic god has dominion over the potential, the distant, and the unseen. Thus, he is seen as an oracle of dreams. He also governs navigation, mystery, and the cycles of time and is the keeper of mysteries that no others are meant to learn.
The reclusive Kruphix speaks rarely and counts few worshipers. He often takes no real form but appears only as a Nyx-filled space in the sky. The temple of Kruphix is built over a cataract at the very edge of the world. His main oracle is a woman named Kydele.
He discusses with Elspeth the greatest secret of Theros: the Gods of Theros arose from mortal belief that took form within the fabric of Nyx. Even he as the oldest does not predate mortal belief. He saw the other gods slowly emerge based on specific domains such as death, the sun, the sea, the forest, and the forge. This was followed by Gods in more abstract domains such as war, deception, insight, love and more.
He also shared that though the domains remain, the gods themselves change. An example was that Heliod was not always the Sun God. However when he took his place in the sky, within a few years to mortal perception he had always been the Sun God. Kruphix himself does not know the reason for their existence but he does not wish to know either.
Kruphix fears that if any planeswalkers (powerful beings who can travel between planes in MTG) set their eyes on Theros, their world is utterly doomed.
Mogis, the dark twin of the god Iroas, is the horned god of wrath and pain. He is associated with slaughter, violence, bloodlust, war, and cannibalism. He is worshiped by minotaurs and is known to take the form of a minotaur, as well. His “red eye” is used as a profanity in Meletis relating to violent death, while Akroan warriors are warned of the threat of giving in to his whims.
Pharika, the god worshiped mostly in Setessa’s Winter Nexus, is apparently associated with grief and old age. Deadly poison can be healing medicine in small amounts, and this dichotomy is reflected in the god whose province is such tinctures. Pharika is the keeper of apothecary knowledge and the source of dark magic, potions and poison. She is also the mother of all Gorgons, who are said to have hidden many cures within their blood. Pharika herself is thought to take the form of a gorgon. Prayers to her are usually letters rolled up in ceramics and dumped in bogs. Stories say that the secretive god has hidden medicinal knowledge within the natural world, such as in basilisk blood, although most die trying to learn them.
Phenax is the god of cheats and liars. He governs gambling, deception, betrayal, isolation, planning, and secrets. He is worshiped by criminals and others who wish to subvert the rules. Phenax is also associated with the Returned, Theros’ undead, who follow his path back from the Underworld.
As a mortal, Phenax was the first to escape the underworld. Cheating death this way likely set him on a path to join Theros’ pantheon.
Klothys has a mask on either side of her face, which implies she’s a goddess with three aspects. Her long hair twists around her horns. The tool in her right hand is a spindle. Her eyes are covered to signify that Destiny is blind and impartial. Her left thumb has a sharp golden nail to cut the threads of destiny.